Wednesday, May 4, 2016

DiscoProJoe's Rockbox EQ Presets (complete user guide)

(This article was updated December 11, 2016. Also contains a January 7, 2017 addendum at the bottom.)

If you can install Rockbox firmware on your beloved iPod Classic or on any other compatible music player, or if you already have this firmware, then youre in for a real treat! Furthermore, if you also have a pair of fairly-expensive, full-size, over-the-ear headphones thats designed to emphasize the sub-bass (such as the V-Moda Crossfade M-100), and a portable headphone amplifier with a good bass-boost switch and a lot of power (such as the Cayin C5) to tether your Rockboxed player to, thenget ready for a musical experience with an incredible soundstage and throbbing low-end sub-bass thats so out-of-this-world that you wont even know what hit ya.

I installed Rockbox on my 80GB iPod Classic (6th Generation) in late March 2015, and within a week I programmed nearly 200 EQ presets that could be quickly and easily changed on the fly -- without distortion -- while playing my tunes -- without iTunes!

Since then, Ive made major additions and improvements to these presets in early April 2015, late May, and mid-December, some extra changes in January 2016, along with a further tweak in December 2016. Most of these were made on the heels of various discoveries, which allowed me to dramatically enhance the sound quality and listening experience to a level thats..............mesmerizing................

Now,...I just can't stop enjoying my music. In fact, all of this has made a bigger difference in sound quality for me than in January 2015 when replacing my old pair of fake Beats Pro headphones with a genuine pair of V-Moda M-100s.

And here's the really good news: if you have Rockbox on your music player (or if you're going to install it), then ***you*** also can use these custom EQ presets as well. They work splendidly well on an iPod Classic, and hopefully should work on most other Rockboxed players, too. Just follow these steps:


1. In Rockbox (on your Rockboxed music player), go to Settings > Sound Settings > Bass Cutoff, and select "1."

2. In the Sound Settings menu, hover your cursor over the "Bass" listing, and press and hold the select button for at least half a second.

3. Choose "Set as Top Quickscreen Item."

4. (optional) Press and hold the select button over the "Bass" listing again.

5. (optional) Choose "Set as Bottom Quickscreen Item."

6. (optional) Go to Settings > General Settings > Display > LCD Settings, and hover your cursor over the "Brightness" listing. Press and hold the select button for at least half a second.

7. (optional) Choose "Set as Left Quickscreen Item."

8. (optional) Press and hold the select button over the "Brightness" listing again.

9. (optional) Choose "Set as Right Quickscreen Item."

10. From any screen, press and hold the menu button for at least half a second. This will give you the Quickscreen menu.

11. Tap the menu (i.e., "up") button 8 times to get a +12.0 dB bass boost. (If you tap the play (i.e., "down") button, it will skip over the +12.0 dB increment for some reason.) It is very important that you choose +12.0 dB! DiscoProJoes Rockbox EQ Presets are specifically designed to be used with this Rockbox bass-boost feature set to +12 dB, and with its "Bass Cutoff" set to "1."

12. (optional) Use the left and right buttons to adjust the screen brightness. You can press and hold them to move the value faster.

13. Press the select button to exit the Quickscreen menu.

14. On your PC, click this Dropbox link:  http://tinyurl.com/jkvcv4z

(The page should say, "DiscoProJoe's Rockbox EQ Presets, Version 4.1.zip" )

15. Click the "Download" button.

16. If any sign-in box pops up, just click "No thanks, continue to download."

17. Save the file to your desktop.

18. Open the .zip file, and drag and drop the "EQ presets 1" and "EQ presets Cayin C5" folders onto your desktop.

19. Connect your Rockboxed music player to your computer.

20. Drag and drop these two folders onto the root directory of your music player. (If you already have a previous version of these presets, be sure and remove them from your music player first before copying the new folders.)

21. Disconnect your music player from the computer, and reboot the music player.

22. On the main menu of Rockbox on your music player, go to "Files."

23. The "EQ presets 1" and "EQ presets Cayin C5" folders should be there. You can now open them, and can choose from 2 sets of 7 midbass categories, 8 treble subcategories, and 10 bass increments (plus the original increment), for a total of 590 presets X 2 sets!



----------------------------
Now for some notes about the presets:

-- The first set named "EQ presets 1" is designed for use without a physical external bass-boost switch on an amp, and the second set named "EQ presets Cayin C5" is made for combining with the bass switch (of 5.5 dB) on the Cayin C5 portable amp.

-- After choosing a preset and hitting the "select" button on your iPod, it may take a few seconds for the sound to change.

-- After choosing a preset, you can press the "play" button on your iPod to instantly return to the "Now Playing" screen to adjust the volume, change the track, etc.

-- While in the "Now Playing" screen, you can press the "select" button on the iPod to return to the "EQ preset" folder you were in to try a different preset, etc.

-- While in the "Now Playing" screen, you can press the "select" and "play" buttons simultaneously, and browse the track listing of the album that's currently playing. This way, your menu cursor will remain in the EQ preset folder you were last in (to try a different preset, etc.), and you can easily browse the current album's track listing and choose another song from it.

-- Each set contains 5 main midbass categories: "Cool," "Hot," "Lite," "Ultra Lite," and "Wicked," plus two special ones: "Wild" and "Xtra Smooth," along with a simple category called "Z Flat."

-- The "Z Flat" category has a letter Z in front of it so it will appear at the bottom of the list. This "Z Flat" folder in the "EQ presets 1" set allows you to (1) turn off the EQ and set everything to flat, or (2) simulate the "flat" sound (with only the low-end sub-bass boosted) from the +12 dB Rockbox bass-boost feature.

-- The "Z Flat" folder in the "EQ presets Cayin C5" set also gives you two options: (1) simulate the "flat" sound (with only the low-end sub-bass boosted) with the physical bass switch on the Cayin C5 amp turned on -- but with the Rockbox bass-boost feature turned off, or (2) simulate the "flat" sound (with only the low-end sub-bass boosted) with both bass boosts turned on.

-- The order of the 5 main midbass categories -- from lightest to heaviest -- is "Ultra Lite," "Lite," "Cool," "Hot," "Wicked." All of them reduce the midbass to varying degrees to counteract the large midbass spillover from the +12 dB Rockbox bass feature, and/or from the +5.5 dB bass switch on the Cayin C5, and/or also from the natural bass boost of the V-Moda M-100 headphones (and possibly other kinds). Without using an EQ, these bass-boost features can easily muddy up the sound, drown out the midrange, add unwanted coloration, and kill off the soundstage. Not so with DiscoProJoes Rockbox EQ Presets! These splendid EQ presets have come to the rescue just in the nick of time to improve your vital sound quality and put a smile on your face.  :-)

-- Each midbass category (except "Z Flat") has its own set of treble subcategories, each in its own subfolder. These are alphabetized from brightest to dullest: "Abnormally Boosted Treble," "Additional Boosted Treble," "Boosted Treble," "Classic," "Less Treble," "Reduced Treble," "Treble Out," and "Treble Way Out." Among these folders, the 4 kHz, 8 kHz, and 16 kHz bands are boosted or attenuated to varying degrees, while the "Classic" subcategory leaves them set to flat. (The 1 kHz and 2 kHz bands form the flat "baseline" of all the preset curves.) In some subcategories, the highest bass increment may include a "Dull" selection thats available, which pushes the 4 kHz, 8 kHz, and 16 kHz sliders all the way down to -24 dB!

-- The original preset in each subfolder (with the numeral 0 behind it) boosts 40 Hz by 6.5 dB. Each bass-increment preset adds 3 dB to 40 Hz with a total of 10 increments. The 10th bass increment has the equivalent of a 36.5 dB boost to 40 Hz!

-- In the "Hot" and "Wicked" midbass categories, 64 Hz also gets a 0.6 dB boost with each step, and the 10th increment gives 64 Hz the equivalent of a 6.0 dB boost from the original preset in the subfolder.

-- The increments in the "Cool," "Lite," "Ultra Lite," "Wild," and "Xtra Smooth" midbass categories do not boost 64 Hz with each step.

-- Many treble subfolders contain less than 10 bass increments. The reason? Well,...this is explained in technical detail further below, with charts provided for demonstration.

-- Beyond the 6th bass increment, the volume level will get quieter with each increment, so you'll need to turn up the volume to make up the difference.

-- It's a good idea to temporarily turn down the volume while changing presets -- especially when moving from a higher bass increment to a lower one -- as a resulting louder volume may come blaring in.

-- Every subcategory folder has an extra folder embedded within it, named "EQ precut adjust." This contains some extra files, and allows you to conveniently override the default precut setting of whichever EQ preset youre using. With this, you can set your volume precut anywhere from 0 dB to 24 dB in increments of 3 dB. This is useful if the particular song thats playing sounds distorted (even at low volume), which could mean that the default precut setting in the EQ preset youre using may not be sufficient, and may need to be raised. If youre getting distortion in that song, then a precut of 6 or 9 dB usually does the trick, but some songs may need as much as 18 dB of precut to play clean.

-- In the "Sound Settings" in Rockbox, your Maximum Volume Limit should be set at the maximum +12 dB. Even with a powerful amp, you may need the extra volume gain on the 8th, 9th, and 10th bass increments where the overall volume level is lower and needs an extra boost to make up the difference.

-- In the "EQ presets Cayin C5" set (while using the bass boost on the Cayin C5 amp), you'll need to use a bass increment that's 2-to-3 notches lower for it to closely match the way it sounds in the "EQ presets 1" set without using a physical bass-boost switch -- if its at or below the 6th increment. For example, in the latter setup if youre using the preset "Lite Classic 5," it will closely match the way "Lite Classic 2" or "Lite Classic 3" sound in the former setup. But for presets beyond the 6th increment, the former setup will resemble the sound of the latter by using a preset thats one bass increment lower. For example, "Hot Less Treble 8" in the latter setup will sound similar to "Hot Less Treble 7" in the former setup.

-- On a particular song, if youre using the 0th increment in a subfolder with suitable-sounding midbass but theres still too much sub-bass, then press and hold the menu button for at least half a second. This will give you the Quickscreen menu. Tap the menu (i.e., "up") button 8 times to get a 0.0 dB bass boost (i.e., to turn off the Rockbox bass-boost feature). With the Rockbox bass feature turned off, the "Wicked" midbass category will closely match the sound signature of the "Hot" category (with the +12 dB Rockbox bass boost on), but with 4 increments worth of less sub-bass. The "Wild" midbass category (with the Rockbox bass feature off) will closely emulate the sound of the "Cool" category (with the full Rockbox bass boost on), but also with 4 increments equivalent of less sub-bass. And with the Rockbox bass feature off, "Cool" will sound like "Lite," and "Xtra Smooth" will closely match "Ultra Lite."

-- The special "Wild" and "Xtra Smooth" midbass categories may not sound good while using the Rockbox bass boost, so they're mostly just suitable for special cases when the +12 dB bass feature needs to be turned off.

-- If youre playing a song that has a ridiculously excessive amount of sub-bass in the recording, you can go to the Quickscreen menu and set the Rockbox bass-boost setting all the way down to -10.5 dB, and then choose a suitable EQ preset.

-- While you certainly can enjoy many of these EQ presets without an external amp, it is strongly recommended that you get a portable headphone amp that is non-DAC, has a good bass-boost switch, and a lot of power -- especially the Cayin C5. (A Rockboxed music player might not work well -- if at all -- with an external DAC/amp.) Without an amp, and without an external bass boost switch, you'll easily run out of volume gain on the higher bass increments. You also might get a lot of distortion if you try to play it loud.

-- If you dont have a good pair of headphones thats designed to empasize the sub-bass (such as the V-Moda M-100, which Id very-highly recommend), then your headphones might not respond very well to these huge sub-bass enhancements. They may not put out much sound at those low pitches, they might sound distorted, or may even "bottom out" with the beat and go, "snap, krackle, pop" like Rice Krispies. Apple earbuds are one of the worst choices to use with these presets, so dont even think about trying them!

-- To sum it up, the V-Moda M-100 headphones naturally have an 8-dB low-end sub-bass boost by themselves, the Cayin C5 amp boosts the low end by 5.5 dB, Rockbox firmware on an iPod Classic has a +12 dB bass feature, and on top of all that -- separately -- DiscoProJoes Rockbox EQ Presets can boost the low-end sub-bass by as much as 36.5 dB. 8 + 5.5 + 12 + 36.5 = up to 62 dB of possible low-end sub-bass boost with good clarity and soundstage! Its awesome.



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Well, Id now like to move on to some of the technical aspects, which have enabled me to create these presets with style and finesse. Understanding these have made possible the most spectacular sound quality imaginable that I never dreamed I could enjoy with headphones.

One discovery was this:  40 Hz is a much-better frequency to set the lowest EQ band at on a 10-band parametric equalizer, instead of the standard 32 Hz.

In December 2016, I tried experimenting with the parametric settings in the Rockbox EQ. All those experiments made the sound worse, except for one:  changing the setting of the lowest frequency band from the default 32 Hzto 40 Hz, and adjusting the Q-factor slope rate of that particular band from the default 0.7 Qto a slightly-steeper 0.9 Q.

The result of that tweak was a tighter, a more solid, and a more powerful sub-bass sound, along with an even-wider soundstage, and more musical detail to go with it.

Basically, there isnt enough sound down at 32 Hz in most song recordingsto justify centering your sub-bass boost at that low of a frequency. And Rockboxs default slope rate for that band is a bit shallow, and tends to bleed slightly into the midbass and lower midrange.

Changing it to 40 Hz / 0.9 Q enables the EQ to boost the sub-bass a lot more efficiently, and with less of a bleed-over into other frequencies.

Moving on, another phenomenon I discovered is this:  When setting the default precut for an EQ preset, the 32 Hz (or 40 Hz) band can usually be ignored.

How amazed I was in May 2015 when I tried dramatically lowering the volume precut level while playing the high bass increments in the old "Optimized" category -- even with the precut dropped all the way down to zero -- without the slightest bit of audible distortion on most songs! And this was with the 32 Hz band maxed out at +24 dB. This made me realize that most song recordings have such a tremendous deficit of low-end sub-bassthat you can boost 32 Hz (or 40 Hz) by a whopping 24 dB on your digital EQ,and there will still be a deficit without any clipping!

Prior to my discovery of this in May 2015, a 24 dB boost of any frequency band automatically meant that that EQ preset would get a precut of 24 dB. This meant Id be using up most of my volume gain -- even with a powerful amp -- and often times, there still wouldnt be enough low-end sub-bass.

Not anymore! I can now set the default precuts to whichever amount of dB that the band with the largest boost besides 40 Hz gets. The result is not only a more "solid" sound with less noise, but with this, I also could add a lot more bass increments -- especially in the best-sounding categories at that time -- without running out of volume gain and without getting too much noise!

Of course, with 40 Hz already maxed out at +24 dB, the obvious way to add increments is to lower all the other frequency sliders proportionally below 0 dB with each extra step. Seems pretty simple and straightforward, right?

Wrong!

This led me to a further discovery:  The more you lower your EQ sliders below 0 dB while maintaining the same curve, the "brighter" the high-end treble will become.

Heres a quick experiment you can do on your own: open up iTunes or any other program on your PC that has a built-in equalizer. Open its EQ, and make sure all the bands are set to flat at +0 dB. Play a song and hear how it sounds. Next, push all the EQ sliders down to the lowest theyll go, and turn up your volume to compensate. Play the same song, and notice a big difference in the sound quality.

What you’ll realize is this:
















(Click on the diagrams for a larger view. And yes,…I was the one who drew them!)

In the "EQ curves" chart above, lines 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 all will have the same sound signature when played back.

The further from +0 dB your 1 kHz "baseline" is, the more your EQ curve must be "bent" for it to sound the same.

This brings us to our second diagram:















In this one, lines 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 all will have very different sound signatures. (This also exposes the fact that an EQ precut is absolutely not the same as lowering all your sliders!)

Line 6 will sound like an old radio that’s all midrange and seriously lacks highs and lows. Line 7 will sound a bit dull. Line 8 will be flat and normal. Line 9 will sound like the high-end treble and low-end sub-bass have been boosted (which might actually sound good), and line 10 will sound dark and ugly like the midrange woofers have been disconnected with the tweets and subs playing only.

Want a simple way to boost your highs and lows? Just lower all your EQ sliders a little and turn up the volume to make up for the loss, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you hear.

So…this leads us to the final set of charts:















Line 11 represents the "Wicked Classic 6" preset fairly closely. If youd just like to add more sub-bass while keeping everything else sounding the same, then the EQ curve will need to look like Line 12 to make that happen. Line 12 reflects the "Wicked Classic 7" preset pretty well. What, then, if you need even more sub-bass? Well, then, Line 13 hopefully would be enough to give you what you crave! (The latter could represent "Wicked Classic 9.")


So in the treble subfolders below "Classic," each lower subfolder has one less bass increment, progressively. There's a tendency to run into the -24 dB floor a lot sooner on the high-end treble when the treble is already attenuated and all the sliders (except 40 Hz) are being lowered.


Anyway, an important point to note from all this is that even though Rockbox has an EQ range of +24 dB to -24 dB, youll "only" really be able to boost your low-end sub-bass by about 36 to 38 dB. The good news, though, is that Rockbox also has a separate +12 dB bass feature, the bass boost switch on a good portable headphone amp (such as the Cayin C5) will give you an extra 5.5 to 6 dB of sub-bass, and a good pair of headphones such as the V-Moda M-100s will naturally boost the sub-bass by an additional 8 dB on top of that!


So if you combine Rockbox with a nice amp and a cool pair o cans, and you download these fun EQ presets, then you can get a nice 62 dB of low-end throb added to make original masterings from the 1970s & 80s sound great, along with everything from recent decades as well. (Of course, most newer music will need much less extra sub-bass added, but you probably already knew that.)

Theres an interesting Wikipedia page about equal-loudness contours, which may suggest why boosting sub-bass by a huge amount is so desirable.



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Well, ladies and gentlemen, Id like to move on to the final but "main section" of this post. Im going to present 12 examples of particular songs and the specific EQ presets I use with each one, along with my impressions of the sound. Be sure to compare the difference between the 40 Hz frequency band and the "baseline" bands of 1 kHz and 2 kHz to give you an idea of the actual bass boost amount that the EQ is providing. Bear in mind that the +12 dB Rockbox bass feature, the natural extra-bass signature of my V-Moda M-100 headphones, and the bass switch on the Cayin C5 amp will combine to deliver an additional sub-bass boost of about 25.5 dBon top of whatever the listed EQ preset adds to the mix! (For example, if the EQ is providing 36.5 dB of sub-bass boost, then the grand total comes to 62 dB.) Also note that all presets listed are from the "Cayin C5" set.

Youll see that many of these have a huge dip in the midbass frequencies. This is done purposely to counteract the large midbass spillover from the two bass boosts and from the V-Moda M-100 headphones natural sound curve.

And theres something else I forgot to point out: the M-100s naturally have a "bright" (i.e., boosted high-end treble) sound signature as well, so they less often need an extra treble boost to sound good.

When mentioning the percent volume level, this is the one on the iPodwhile being played with the Cayin C5 amp gain set to maximum and its gain switch set to high. (The iPods "Maximum Volume Limit" is also set to +12 dB in the Rockbox sound settings.)

Well, the first 9 songs are ones that most Americans might be familiar with. Here they are
 

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Pat Benatar "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (1980)
(Original mastering, from her Greatest Hits album)

EQ preset used: "Cool Boosted Treble 8"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +24.0 dB
64 Hz: -9.0 dB
125 Hz: -14.0 dB
250 Hz: -12.5 dB
500 Hz: -8.3 dB
1000 Hz: -6.5 dB
2000 Hz: -6.5 dB
4000 Hz: -8.5 dB
8000 Hz: -10.0 dB
16000 Hz: -11.5 dB

Wow,electrifying! I can hear and feel every part of the music, and every movement of the guitars and drums as this classic pop-rock anthem surrounds me. Very crisp highs, balanced midbass and midrange with no coloration, and absolutely throbbing and pounding sub-bass that blends perfectly with everything and doesnt drown out anything. I usually crank it up with the volume gain around 70-75%. (At 80%, its really hurting my ears.) Simply amazing and a spectacular tribute to a classic tune!

 
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ZZ Top "Tush" (1975)
(Original mastering, from their Greatest Hits album)

EQ preset used: "Lite Less Treble 4"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +18.5 dB
64 Hz: -8.9 dB
125 Hz: -10.0 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: -2.0 dB
8000 Hz: -3.5 dB
16000 Hz: -5.0 dB

A fun jam with a throbbing low beat that goes, "bump bump,bump bump," along with clear highs, detailed classic guitar sounds, and no coloration of the midbass or midrange -- in spite of this being the original mastering from 1975. I also can really feel the tight vibrations of the tom drums during parts of the song, too. Volume cranked up around 65%, starts hurting my ears around 70%, and the beat causes the amp to start clipping around 78% volume. Great sound!


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Earth, Wind & Fire "September" (1978)
(Original mastering, from a special old compilation album of theirs called Lets Groove)

EQ preset used: "Wicked Boosted Treble 6"

eq precut: 4.5 dB

40 Hz: +24.0 dB
64 Hz: +3.3 dB
125 Hz: -5.5 dB
250 Hz: -4.5 dB
500 Hz: -2.3 dB
1000 Hz: -0.5 dB
2000 Hz: -0.5 dB
4000 Hz: +1.5 dB
8000 Hz: +3.0 dB
16000 Hz: +4.5 dB

This preset takes one of the most obnoxiously-flat-sounding tracks in my whole music collection and spectacularly brings it to life! Back in my old car stereo days I used to max out the treble gain with this song, and that often still wasnt enough to overcome the deficit. Not so with a "Wicked" Rockbox! Crisp-sounding percussion and trombones, balanced mids without coloration, lively vocals that surround you, and smooth, throbbing sub-bass that blends well and adds to the vibe, too. Nice n loud at 70% volume and starts hurting the ears at 75%. Fantastic sound -- especially for an original 1978 mastering!

At this point, some of you may be asking, "Why dont you just download some remasterings that were done in the last 20 years?"

Well, I certainly could do that, but with my large music collection, this would be a tremendous project to undertake. And since we now have a wonderful new tool called Rockbox and DiscoProJoes EQ Presets,who needs to do that, anyway?  ;-)
 
 
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Madonna "Live To Tell" (1986)
(Version from The Immaculate Collection)

EQ preset used: "Ultra Lite Treble Out 4"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +18.5 dB
64 Hz: -13.5 dB
125 Hz: -13.0 dB
250 Hz: -7.5 dB
500 Hz: -2.3 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: -6.0 dB
8000 Hz: -10.5 dB
16000 Hz: -15.0 dB

One word: soundstage! If theres one word that describes what this serpentine-shaped preset does for this song, that would describe it like an understatement. This "Ultra Lite" setting dramatically reduces the excessive midbass and lower midrange that would normally result from boosting the bass in this song, and leaves behind no coloration whatsoever. The playback sounds like a concert performance in a huge room and a wide-open space. Absolutely amazing musical detail with strong highs, balanced mids, and a deep throb that dramatically supports and adds to the soundstage in the most awesome way. It makes me want to keep repeating this song again and again! Volume is cranked up loud around 65%.


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Vanessa Williams "Save The Best For Last" (1991)
(From her album The Comfort Zone)

EQ preset used: "Lite Classic 1"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +9.5 dB
64 Hz: -8.9 dB
125 Hz: -10.0 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: +0 dB
8000 Hz: +0 dB
16000 Hz: +0 dB

Every part of the music comes alive in a soothing, wide-open atmosphere that seems to wrap all around you. Powerful sub-bass; balanced midbass with clear vocals, piano, and mandolin; a dreamy, spectacular orchestral arrangement; and decent, airy treble. It all comes together splendidly and with great detail to give you a truly unforgettable experience! The volume is played fairly loud at 45-55%.


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Mariah Carey "Anytime You Need A Friend" (1993)
(From her album Music Box)

EQ preset used: "Lite Classic 5"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +21.5 dB
64 Hz: -8.9 dB
125 Hz: -10.0 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: +0 dB
8000 Hz: +0 dB
16000 Hz: +0 dB

Mesmerizing and spectacular soundstage. Lively gospel-choir vocals that surround you in what feels like a large concert hall. Balanced main vocal and midbass without coloration, good highs and perfectly-matched sub-bass that totally adds to the soundstage and breathes life into this passionate song! A volume level of 45-50% plays this tune pretty loud.

Back in March 2015 when creating the original set of EQ presets, Mariah Careys Music Box album was one of the main ones I used to craft the original "Optimized" category that eventually became the inspiration of more-complex subsequent EQ preset versions. After purchasing my pair of V-Moda M-100 headphones in January of that year, I was quite disappointed with how the Music Box album sounded through them. Too often the main vocals, upper midbass, and lower midrange sounded much too colored and unrealistic, and I needed to choose the "Bass Reducer" setting on the iPods Apple-firmware EQ to fix this problem. But then Id be left without sub-bass, and had to settle for less.

So with these later EQ-preset overhauls, of course, these "Optimized" categories have been hugely expanded, reorganized, and given different names to encompass my entire music collection, sothats my story and Im stickin to it!  :-D


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Ciara & Missy Elliott "1, 2 Step" (2004)

EQ preset used: "Lite Treble Out 1"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +9.5 dB
64 Hz: -8.9 dB
125 Hz: -10.0 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: -6.0 dB
8000 Hz: -10.5 dB
16000 Hz: -15.0 dB

A fun "basshead" groove thats lots of fun to crank up with this serpentine-shaped preset! The song recording has way too much high-end treble, so its been drastically attenuated here in order to emphasize the midrange and create a good soundstage. (The highs still sound nice and crisp, though.) But the biggest part of the fun of this jam should be obvious: DA BASS!

This preset works like magic in this song to eliminate and smooth out any excessive, loud, "boomy" midbass while really bringing up the ultra-low-end sub-bass to kick your head with a big, tight hit! But as hard and as deep as it pounds, it still blends perfectly with the rest of the music and doesnt drown anything out -- not even during the bridge. You can enjoy a highly-detailed sound with a good presence and a massive beat that really thumps. Lots & lots & lots o fun!

I enjoy this groove the most with the volume around 55-65%. The beat starts clipping the amp at 75% volume, and at that level it is seriously hurting my ears. Surprisingly, I dont need to use an additional EQ precut with this song. The only slight distortion I can notice is in the recording of the song, and not from my equipment.


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Rihanna "SOS" (2006)

EQ preset used: "Lite Reduced Treble 2"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +12.5 dB
64 Hz: -8.9 dB
125 Hz: -10.0 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: -4.0 dB
8000 Hz: -7.0 dB
16000 Hz: -10.0 dB

Rihannas "SOS" is another super-fun basshead jam, and this one makes my headphones shake constantly throughout the whole song! But theres a huge catch: this "Lite" preset completely alters the type of bass that this track was meant to project, and makes it sound awesomely better.

The recording was basically meant to make this song go, "Boom! Boom! Boom!" with loud midbass that can easily drown out the midrange and vocals and kill off the soundstage. Some bassheads may prefer that, but not me! So I took this recording and made it go, "Throb! Throb! Throb!" instead -- with breathtaking presence, depth and musical detail to go with it. Incredibly powerful sound with crisp highs and lively vocals that seem to wrap all around you. Minimal "boominess," no coloration, and as solid-sounding as ever.

I typically crank this jam up to around 45-50% volume and it gets the job done. The throbbing sub-bass makes the amp start clipping at well-above 70% volume, and by then, thats hurting my ears so much that I refuse to find out where it starts to distort.


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Passenger "Let Her Go" (2012)

EQ preset used: "Lite Boosted Treble 7"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +24.0 dB
64 Hz: -12.4 dB
125 Hz: -13.5 dB
250 Hz: -9.5 dB
500 Hz: -5.3 dB
1000 Hz: -3.5 dB
2000 Hz: -3.5 dB
4000 Hz: -3.5 dB
8000 Hz: -3.5 dB
16000 Hz: -3.5 dB

Unbelievable warmth that brings out the power of the acoustic guitars in this song like youd never imagine. Talk about presence! Strong midbass that isn't overpowering and doesn't sound colored, along with balanced mids, plus crisp highs all work together to give the acoustic guitars the most detailed and unforgettable sound signature imaginable. And of course, that good ol' supporting sub-bass can be felt underneath the song, and especially in the kick drum throughout. This sound also features clear, pronounced vocals without any lower-midrange bloat.

I can't fathom how this song could sound any better! Volume played pretty loud at 45-55%, and the sub-bass starts clipping the amp at about 60% volume.


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Thats all of the well-known American (or British) pop songs Ill present for now. Moving on,the next track is a very nice classical-music-style tune:


Tim Zibrat & Nika "River Flows In You & Kiss The Rain" (2010)

EQ preset used: "Lite Classic 0"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +6.5 dB
64 Hz: -8.9 dB
125 Hz: -10.0 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: +0 dB
8000 Hz: +0 dB
16000 Hz: +0 dB

Sounds like youre in a symphony hall witnessing a breathtaking performance. The instruments sound very-well placed on the stage, and you can feel the keys on the piano being pressed. No coloration of the upper midbass nor lower midrange is present, and the "infrasonic interference" in the recording is kept to a minimum with this EQ preset. Makes for a wonderful orchestral rendition of Korean pianist Yirumas two most popular songs. (I usually play the volume between 40 and 50% on this track.)

This is one song that my M-100 headphones cant play very well without an EQ. Prior to Rockboxing my iPod, I had to settle for the "Bass Reducer" setting in the Apple-firmware EQ on tracks like this, and would be left without a "low end." It sure is nice to have it all now!


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Well, these final two songs are ones that everyone in China knows really well.  Here they are


Fenghuang Chuanqi "Ziyou Feixiang" (2007)
(凤凰传奇 “自由飞翔”)
(Phoenix Legend "Fly Freely")

EQ preset used: "Cool Classic 0"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +6.5 dB
64 Hz: -2.5 dB
125 Hz: -7.5 dB
250 Hz: -6.0 dB
500 Hz: -1.8 dB
1000 Hz: +0 dB
2000 Hz: +0 dB
4000 Hz: +0 dB
8000 Hz: +0 dB
16000 Hz: +0 dB

(A small EQ precut of 6 dB is needed on this track to prevent distortion. After youve selected the "Cool Classic 0" preset, you can conveniently and easily set this precut by going into the "EQ precut adjust" folder thats located inside each and every subcategory folder. Choose the one that says "6 dB.")

An incredible soundstage with a massive low throb and infrasonic rumble throughout the entire songis exactly what you get with this EQ preset when you crank up this mega-popular Chinese tune! You can feel the breath of the rapper and singer coming through the mic, the orchestral arrangement sounds like its in a large concert hall and wide-open space, and everything blends well together with a sound signature that youll never forget. Just pump up the volume on my iPod at 45-55% for an awesome experience!


-------------------
Zhang Yusheng "Wo De Weilai Bu Shi Meng" (1988)
(张雨生 “我的未来不是梦”)
(Chang Yu-sheng "My Future Is Not A Dream")

EQ preset used: "Cool Boosted Treble 7"

eq precut: 0 dB

40 Hz: +24.0 dB
64 Hz: -6.0 dB
125 Hz: -11.0 dB
250 Hz: -9.5 dB
500 Hz: -5.3 dB
1000 Hz: -3.5 dB
2000 Hz: -3.5 dB
4000 Hz: -3.5 dB
8000 Hz: -3.5 dB
16000 Hz: -3.5 dB

Electrifying,mesmerizing,"shot through the heart"would characterize the amazing sound signature of this preset with this late 80s power ballad! Feels like a live performance of a gnarly, rad 80s rock ballad in a huge arena with instruments that seem to wrap all the way around you, combined with a deep-throbbing bass that supports the whole beautiful structure and matches it perfectly. Volume turned up around 55-65% to put me into a sea of absolute awesomeness.



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Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, that's it for now. I truly hope you can thoroughly enjoy these amazing, awesome, dramatically-inspiring EQ presets to happily brighten your days now and forever. Get a taste of these splendid wonders and hear what heaven truly sounds like. Wow,...what a difference!


(End of main article)









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Addendum (January 7, 2017)


I made another discovery:  instead of using the presets "X Boosted Treble 10," "X Classic 10," "X Less Treble 9," or any of the "Dull" presets on the particular songs that need them, it's better to use both...

A.  Either "X Additional Boosted Treble 10" or "X Classic 9", and also...

B.  The Rockbox treble feature that's separate from the equalizer, and can be used to reduce the treble further.

(On a Rockboxed iPod Classic, the treble feature can reduce the highs by as much as -10.5 dB, in steps of 1.5 dB.)

Due to technical reasons explained in the article, there's a tendency to run into the -24 dB EQ floor with the treble on the high bass increments in DiscoProJoe's Rockbox EQ Presets. If you've ever used the presets "X Boosted Treble 10," "X Classic 10," or "X Less Treble 9" for any songs that need them, you might notice that the treble doesn't sound very smooth. This is because the 16 kHz band has long since run into the -24 dB floor, and the 4 kHz and 8 kHz bands are still being lowered. As a result, the high-end treble sounds too bright. It overpowers the mid-treble, and can mess up the soundstage.

So instead of creating another new version update for this, here's a better solution that you can take on your own. Just follow these steps:

1.  In Rockbox (on your Rockboxed music player), go to Settings > Sound Settings > Treble Cutoff, and select "1."  (If there is no "Treble Cutoff" selection, then just skip this step.)

2.  In the Sound Settings menu, hover your cursor over the "Treble" listing, and press and hold the select button for at least half a second.

3.  Choose "Add to Shortcuts."

So now, in the Rockbox main menu, you can go to "Shortcuts," and can find the "Treble" listing there. (I'm already personally using the "Bass" and "Brightness" features on the two axes of my Quickscreen menu, so the "Treble" feature will have to be relegated to the Shortcuts menu.)

Anyway, here's some examples of songs that I'm using the Rockbox treble (reducing) feature on:


-------------------------
Mariah Carey  "Vision of Love"  (1990)


Was previously using "Lite Boosted Treble 10." Now, am using "Lite Additional Boosted Treble 10" with the Rockbox treble feature set to -4.5 dB.


-------------------------
J. Geils Band  "Centerfold"  (1981)


Was using "Lite Classic 10." Now am using "Lite Additional Boosted Treble 10" with the Rockbox treble feature set to -9.0 dB.


-------------------------
NKOTB  "You Got It (The Right Stuff)"  (1988)


Was using "Lite Less Treble 9." Now am using "Lite Classic 9" with the Rockbox treble feature set to -7.5 dB.


-------------------------
NKOTB  "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)"  (1988)


Was using "Ultra Lite Less Treble 9." Now am using "Ultra Lite Classic 9" with the Rockbox treble feature set to -6.0 dB.


-------------------------
Heart  "If Looks Could Kill"  (1985)


This particular song recording has a ridiculous amount of high-end treble. Was (and still am) using "Lite Reduced Treble 8." But prior to this latest discovery, I had to pick my poison: either leave it at this preset and endure the excessive treble, use "Lite Reduced Treble 8 Dull" and (no pun intended) kill off the soundstage, or use "Lite Treble Out 7" and be left with less sub-bass than I'd prefer.

Now, I can use "Lite Reduced Treble 8" with the Rockbox treble feature set to -6.0 dB, and it all comes together perfectly! Yay! No more settling for less.



--------------------------
Anyway, these are just some examples of songs that sound very significantly improved with this new way of doing things -- when using the higher bass increments in the EQ presets -- where previously there were challenges at keeping the treble sounding smooth.


This Rockbox treble feature really comes in handy in certain situations and makes a big difference when it's needed.


Oh well,...have fun, and happy Rockboxing!









---------------------------
(Brief addendum May 4, 2017)


Quick update: just wanted to mention that for the last couple of months, I've often also been using this same Rockbox treble feature to fine tune the treble between treble subcategories in DiscoProJoe's Rockbox EQ Presets.

If the treble sounds a tad bit too bright, then I can try setting the Rockbox treble feature at -1.5 dB or -3.0 dB to get the sound just right. If I need -4.5 dB, though, then I simply leave the treble feature set to 0.0 dB, and use the next duller treble subcategory in the EQ presets, instead.

Hope this helps.